Bat Yam Temple Of the Islands First Menorah Lighting at the Seahorse Shopping Center 12/10/2020
Welcome to our new Bat Yam Temple of the Islands Page! Here is where you can keep up with the goings-on at Bat Yam and Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs. Each month there will be an update from the temple's newsletter, Bat Yam Matters. But, if there is late-breaking news prior to the next newsletter, you can bet I'll be all over it, and you'll be the first to know -- as long as you check this page periodically!
Click on the button below and then click on "bulletin" to view the latest edition of Bat Yam Matters!
“When you read the Book of Leviticus you will see a list of important holidays in Chapter 23. These sacred occasions include Shabbat, Passover, Sukkot, Shavuot all toward the top of the list, indicative of their importance. These so-called pilgrim or harvest festivals were the lifeblood of the Jewish people. “Three times a year Jews made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Temple. At that time Rosh Hashanah was a minor holiday; today Rabbis prepare for weeks, so the question is, how did it go from being a minor holiday to the giant place it has in our hearts today? “Everything changed in Jewish life in the year 70 when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The pillars of Jewish life were ripped away from us, we lost animal sacrifice as a primary way of worshipping God. The power of the priestly class disappeared. It should have ended Jewish life but a group of scholars, the Pharisees, reformed Judaism based on three ideas. Torah reading became an essential feature, at every Shabbat and other services a portion of the scroll is read. Judaism is the only religion that elevates study to become a form of worshipping God. Secondly prayer became important. We always sang psalms, but without sacrifices, prayer moved to the center. Thirdly acts of kindness and compassion, the Pharisees believed, would make the world a better place. Those three ideas are the essence of Judaism today. “We developed liturgy prioritizing our most important concerns. These priorities are referenced in two biblical events, the remembrance of the act of creation and the going forth from Egypt. There is always a direct reference to these two at morning and evening prayers. Inherent in these two prayers is the message we are responsible for this world. Being aware of this knowledge leads us to understanding how Rosh Hashanah became Rosh Hashanah. “It is the anniversary of creation. Just as Passover commemorates the exodus from Egypt, so Rosh Hashanah commemorates the birthday of the world. We celebrate creation and in part the unique story found in the Torah in the first chapter of Genesis. This story of creation begins, ‘In the beginning God…’ nowhere in the other 38 books of the bible does anyone try to show proof of God. God is an assumption of a good, caring God who has an agenda and the agenda is to do what we can to create a just, caring and compassionate society. Genesis is a poetic truth, not a scientific truth. “At verse 26 we read about God creating humanity in his image. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, rule over all living things. This implies responsibility because humans are created in the image of God to take care of everyone, including the stranger, the widow and the orphan. The creation story is a lovely poem. The corollary to this is that our lives matter. Our job is to embrace God’s hope that we will be god-like to do a better job of living up to God’s hope — that is the essence of Rosh Hashanah. It is the flagship story of all subsequent Jewish thoughts.”
Rabbi Fuchs and Bat Yam Officers Evoke
BREAKING NEWS: The Sanibel City Council by a vote of 3 -1 passed a mask requirement ordinance. In addition they closed all hourly paid Sanibel City Beach Parking Lots beginning July 3 - reopening July 7 - also by a vote of 3 - 1. For more details go to www.mysanibel.com and local media. We wish to thank all of you who contacted the Sanibel City Council to help make this happen for the health and safety of our community! Below is the text of letter sent to City Council:
"June 28, 2020 Dear Members of the Sanibel City Council,
The local clergy and officers of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, a 177-member organization who are predominantly seniors, write to you now requesting that you mandate the wearing of masks in all businesses and public places on Sanibel, as well as place limitations on Sanibel beach parking for this coming July 4 th holiday weekend.
As island residents we are well aware of how unique our island home is. We also are acutely aware that our island is viewed that way by large numbers of individuals who are not fortunate enough to live here. It is because of the unique attraction of our island that our island residents are being put at risk by the large numbers of tourists who have descended on us and will be descending this coming holiday weekend.
The alarming escalation of COVID-19 cases in the State of Florida is cause enough for extreme vigilance and concern. Whether or not our governor chooses to take state-wide proactive measures to try to contain the spread of this virus remains beyond your control. What does remain within your control however, is the ability to mandate protective, proactive measures to insure the health and well-being of our island residents.
The numbers of positive COVID-19 cases on Sanibel keeps increasing, and with the alarming increase in Lee County, COVID-19 is clearly at our doorstep. Please exercise your authority to try to contain it before it, too, reaches alarming numbers. We are mindful that loss of revenue is not equal to loss of lives and before that happens, we must place preservation of life and health as the most important consideration at this time.
Because municipalities on the east coast of Florida are closing beaches for this upcoming holiday weekend, it is imperative that our island not be inundated by people seeking a beach and possibly bringing contagions. We have all been in our island businesses recently only to be reminded of the numbers of people patronizing those businesses who are not wearing a mask, not observing social distancing, and more importantly, showing absolute disregard for the safety of those around them. We have observed tourists, who when asked to move further away or to wear a mask, have refused to do either.
As our elected representatives, we implore you to immediately adopt stringent guidelines and sanctions requiring the wearing of masks in all public places and retail establishments. We urge you to reconsider the ban on beach parking for the upcoming holiday weekend to avoid the onslaught of possibly contagious Floridians who will leave more on our island than just their footprints on the beach.
Thank you for your consideration.
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and The Officers of Bat Yam Temple of the Islands: Michael Hochschild, Janice Block Chaddock, Bob Schoen
Rabbi Fuchs Featured Guest Speaker on
Coronavirus Check-In Program
Bat Yam Temple of the Islands Rabbi Stephen Fuchs has been invited by broadcaster Skip Conover to be a guest speaker on the Wisdom Path Global Coronavirus Check-In program this coming Tuesday, May 5, beginning at 1pm Eastern Time.
This online program will explore the universal values in biblical stories and how they emphasize teachings that people of all religions, or of no religion, can embrace. Rabbi Fuchs will also discuss efforts to remain connected during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rabbi Fuchs’ book, “What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives,” has been translated into German, Russian and Spanish. In 2014, Mr. Conover’s belief in the value of the book inspired him to invite Rabbi Fuchs to his studio in Annapolis, Maryland, to record the volume as an audio book as well.
To attend this program, please register in advance here with your name and email address: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pqCBpLg6TuO9qE_8sQy0fg Registration is available only to invited North American and European participants, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once you register, the link to the Zoom room and credential information will be sent to you.
Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs:
Son of a Kristallnacht Survivor
Rabbi Fuchs was the Guest Speaker at the Kristallnacht Commemoration Program hosted by the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019
Stephen Lewis Fuchs is a distinguished rabbi and author. Rabbi Fuchs earned his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College and was ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union College. He went on to earn a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Interpretation from the Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee. In October of 2017, the Divinity School bestowed upon Rabbi Fuchs its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the first person of Jewish faith to ever receive it. He is also the recipient of the Four Chaplains Award. Fuchs is the author of several books that include: What’s in it for Me?, Who Created God?, Why the Kof? and Why Triple Chai? Most recently published, was ... And Often the First Jewavailable from Mazo Publishers and Amazon.com. He is currently the rabbi at the Bat Yam Temple of the Islands in Sanibel, Florida.
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs Speaks at Catholic-
Rabbi Fuchs was the guest speaker at the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. Also in attendance were local Jewish and Catholic clergy and leaders who are working hard to ensure greater peace and understanding between the faiths within the Southwest Florida community. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice beseeched the Catholic faithful to stand up for their Jewish brothers and sisters in the fight against hate and the scourge of anti-Semitism. To illustrate the importance of never forgetting the Holocaust and the ravages against the Jewish people, Holocaust survivors padded slowly to the front and lit a total of six candles symbolizing the six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust.
Catholic/Jewish Dialogue of Collier County 2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 2201 Naples, Florida 34109 Telephone (239) 263-4205 Fax (239) 263-3813 November 23, 2019
Dear Rabbi Fuchs,
My name is Ginny Segaloff and I am the chair of the 2019 Kristallnacht Commemoration held Sunday, November 17, 2019, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Naples.
On behalf of the sponsors of this event, the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County; I wish to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your participation as our Guest Speaker. It was our great honor to have you present your deeply personal and moving account of your story to the over 700 attendees. Your address to the administrators, teacher, students and their families of the Collier County Public Schools as to the importance of their work, particularly resonated with me, because it is my belief that education is the salvation of mankind.
On a more personal level, I was struck by your journey to and capacity for forgiveness. I could feel your anger and rage and your excruciating pain, as you narrated your journey in confronting the horrific past of your father’s history and somehow finding the grace to open your heart and let go of the bitterness and vengefulness that anger and pain festers and truly forgive. Your story gave me great hope, comfort and peace. And as one who struggles with letting go and coming to forgive; I am indebted to you for helping me along my journey. The month of November offers two different perspectives of history; one is to remember and the other is to give thanks. I believe you brilliantly demonstrated how we can reconcile both.
As you observe the Sabbath and as we prepare for Thanksgiving, allow me to wish you, your beautiful wife, Vickie, and your loved ones, a most blessed celebration.
With Gratitude, Ginny
View more photos of Rabbi Stephen Fuchs' speaking events here .
Save the Date! 11/17/2019
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs to speak at Kristallnacht Commemorative Service!
We hope to see you there!
Just finished last sermon for this five-week journey to Germany at the St. Johanneskirche in Ahrensburg. It has been a busy five weeks that took Vickie and me to Berlin, Leipzig, Bad Segeberg, Kaltenkirchen, Friedrichstadt, Husum, Flensburg, Bordesholm, Kiel, Schulensee, Bad Oldesloe and here today. It is gratifying, but I continually ask myself: does it do any good?
My best answer is: I hope so.
Honored to stand with Probst Daniel Havemann to share the installation of my dear friend Martin Pommerening as Pastor of the Peter and Paul Church in Bad Oldesloe, Germany.
Rabbi Fuchs and Vickie celebrating their 45th anniversary at the Fuchsbau restaurant with Pastorin Ursula Sieg and Pastor Martin Pommerening. 6/9/2019
Vickie holds Fifth Grade students at the Holstenschule in Neumünster enraptured as she explains the rudiments of Jewish observances to them.
The Israel Adventure Begins!
Below are some pictures of the Interfaith trip to Israel!
Rabbi Fuchs delivering Shabbat Eve sermon at Kehilat Har El on May 3.
The Sea of Galilee
Floating in the Dead Sea!
Vickie placing decorated stones with our prayers for peace (Shalom/Salaam) on the wall separating Israel from Gaza and visible from both sides.
Model Seder at Saint Isabel Catholic Church
Below are some photos of Rabbi Fuchs facilitating a pseudo-Seder for the congregation at St. Isabel Catholic Church in Sanibel on Monday, April 8, 2019.
From a religious perspective, the Exodus from Egypt enabled all subsequent Jewish history to unfold. Had God not freed us we would still be slaves in Egypt! Moses, of course is God's agent in the liberation and the story's foremost hero. But without the role six women play the Exodus could not have taken place.
Shiphrah and Puah
Shiphrah and Puah were humble midwives. Pharaoh ordered them to kill every baby boy that emerged from his mother's womb. The most powerful man on earth - one worshipped as a god - gave them a direct order! The midwives, though, answered to a higher authority than Pharaoh. Their bravery rings across the millennia as an answer to those Nazis' who claimed they had no choice but to kill Jews. They were only following orders. Shiphrah and Puah teach us we always have a choice. (Exodus 1:15-21)
Yocheved, Moses' mother, hid her baby in defiance of Pharaoh's decree. Then she placed him in a wicker basket and floated him among the reeds of the Nile. What courage that took, but her gamble paid off! (Exodus 2:1-3)
Miriam, Moses' sister watched the basket from afar. When Pharaoh's daughter drew it out of the water, Miriam runs to her and suggests the baby's own mother as its nurse. In so doing she saved her brother's life. (Exodus 2:4-9)
Pharaoh's daughter also is a hero. She defied her father's decree and saved Moses. For this she received the privilege of giving Moses' his name. (Exodus 2:5-10)
The final female hero of the Exodus is Zipporah, Moses' wife. She circumcised their son Eleazar when apparently Moses had neglected to do so. The passage really does not fit into the flow of the story, so the rabbis could have interpreted it any way they wished. They could have deemed it crucial or inconsequential. The chose to teach us that God would have killed Moses had Zipporah not intervened and circumcised their son! (Exodus 4:24-26). The heroism of the women who played crucial roles in our Exodus from slavery is a strong and accurate answer to those who claim that women always play a secondary or subordinate role in Jewish thinking. The heroic women of the Exodus also provide wonderful role models for girls and women today to admire and emulate.
December 26, 2018 By RABBI STEPHEN LEWIS FUCHS Bat Yam Temple of the Islands.
Jewish Community Day of Learning
The Third Annual Jewish Community Day of Learning will take place on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at Temple Shalom. The program, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, will include lectures, discussions, and a concert. Speakers scheduled to appear are Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and David Prager. Rabbi Fuchs, currently at Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, is an author and was named Distinguished Alumnus of 2017 by Vanderbilt Divinity School. David Prager is the Southern Regional Director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and is based in Miami. Violinist Rachael Cox from Florida Southwestern State College will perform Music of the Holocaust as the culminating event following a discussion of the book “Violins of Hope.” Participants are invited to bring their own brown bag lunch (no pork or shellfish). A lunch purchase option will be available. Snacks and water will be provided. Following the program, participants will have the opportunity to meet with the presenters and purchase books. Cost of the event is $18. Reservations can be made by contacting Renee Bialek at firstname.lastname@example.org . Look for more details and information in the future issue of the Federation Star.
Shabbat Must Go On!
Rabbi Fuchs is away for a couple weeks, but never fear! Vickie Fuchs will be leading services on Saturday, October 12. See you there!
Victoria Steinberg Fuchs speaking on Multiculturalism in Wroclaw & Europe organized by Cukunft and the House of Europe. October 2016
And on October 19, Rabbi A. James Rudin will be leading services at Bat Yam Temple of the Islands. You won't want to miss it!
Rabbi, Author and Public Speaker, Rabbi A. James Rudin.
Norma and Flavio Schonholz Renew Wedding Vows
Flavio, Rabbi Fuchs, and Norma Schonholz September 30, 2018.
Norma and Flavio embark on another 22 years of wedded bliss!
Join Rabbi Dr. Stephen Fuchs & Rev. Dr. John Danner for an uplifting interfaith experience in Israel! Be part of a curious, open-minded group of intellectual and spiritual seekers as we: Walk in the footsteps of Hebrew Bible patriarchs, prophets and Jesus of Nazareth Reflect at the Western Wall and visit the Kotel Tunnels Visit the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Visit Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered Descend to the Dead Sea and ascend the heights of Masada Cruise on the Sea of Galilee and visit the Jordan River Learn about life today in Israel Share Shabbat services and a special meal with local host families Worship at Church of the Redeemer and hear about life for Christians in the Holy Land Learn from an Islamic Imam advocating for peace Learn about the modern history of Israel and visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum Share many different cuisines reflective of the variety of cultures in Israel. Deepen the unique bond that exists between Sanibel Congregational UCC and Bat Yam
April 29-May 10, 2019 Ten days, nine nights $3070 per person. Based on double occupancy, excluding airfare, based on a minimum of 25 participants. Includes:
Luxury coach travel
Licensed Israeli tour guide
All entrance fees and programming costs
All transfers in Israel
All taxes and fees
A detailed itinerary will be made available at the end of September. Secure your place by sending a $250 deposit per person NOW, marked ISRAEL, to: Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, 2050 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957 Attn: Sandy Simmons (Deposit fully refundable until November 30, 2018)
Let's Go Together!
Jerusalem, Israel. Courtesy of Dustin Ferrell.
Seder at Bat Yam Temple of the Islands 5778
Vickie Fuchs as The Purim Witch
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs as Hatach
It's Purim at Bat Yam!
Purim is a time to ponder important contemporary lessons during a fun-filled and entertaining service. Our Purim celebration at Shabbat Eve services, 7:30, March 2 will be very special! We will celebrate the triumph of our people over forces that would have destroyed us as recounted in the biblical Book of Esther. The service will revolve around a dramatic retelling of the biblical story augmented by familiar songs with special Purim lyrics.
All are encouraged to carefully read the Book of Esther so that they can win prizes by correctly answering the questions Rabbi Fuchs will ask during the service. All of the answers to the questions are found in the Book of Esther. One of Purim’s most time-honored traditions is to shake Groggers (noisemakers) to drown out the name of the villain, Haman, whenever he is mentioned in the story. Participants can make effective Groggers by putting coins into a small cardboard, metal, or Tupperware-type box. After the service, the coins can be donated to our Tzedakah Fund.
Giving Tzedakah (shalach manot in Hebrew) for those less fortunate than we is a venerable Purim tradition. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Story of Purim 5778
True to the Text of
The Book of Esther but...
As it has NEVER been told before!
Starring (in order of appearance)
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs
Cantor Pamela Siskin
Vashti Slow Rap Song
Mordecai Saves the King
Will I Still Be Here Tomorrow
Rabbi Fuchs Reflects
The Adult Issues of Purim
Purim is a time for Groggers, costumes, noise and merriment. With all the frivolity and fun that we shall hopefully experience on Shabbat Eve, March 2, it is easy to dismiss Purim as merely a fun holiday for the young and the young at heart, but Purim is much more.
The Purim story in the Book of Esther confronts the mature reader with vital issues about sexual abuse, the phenomenon of prejudice, and human destiny.
Vashti Too seldom do we ponder the courage of Vashti, King Ahasuerus' first wife. The world's most powerful man commands her to display her beauty for his drunken friends, but she refuses. She is a worthy role model for our daughters. Vashti refused to simply be a sex object even if that refusal cost her throne. Hopefully all of us can learn from her courage.
Prejudice A vital lesson about prejudice presents itself when Mordecai refuses to bow down before Haman. Haman is angry, but as the Bible records: "...it was not enough for him to punish Mordecai alone, for they had told him the people of Mordecai" (Esther 3:5). No, because of his anger at one man, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews.” Sadly, the prejudice presented against us in the book of Esther has confronted our people many times throughout history. Many other groups experience it today. The Purim story provides a vivid example of this phenomenon that we can profitably discuss with young people.
Destiny When Mordecai read Haman's decree condemning the Jews of Persia to death, he sent a message to Esther to intercede for her people. Esther's response was that she dared not enter the presence of the king because he had not summoned her, and the penalty is death for anyone who appears unbidden before the king unless he holds out his scepter as a sign of acceptance. Mordecai, through the servant Hatach, asks Esther a question we should all frequently ask ourselves: "Who knows if you have not become queen for just such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14) In other words, who knows if we are where we are at any given moment just for the opportunity the moment offers us to make a difference. Mordecai's really asks us all: Are we on this earth just to enjoy life? Is our own pleasure the primary purpose of our existence? Jewish tradition and the Book of Esther says, "No."
Esther could have lived out her life in selfish luxury. But Mordecai's question pricked her conscience enough so that she risked everything to save our people.
Mordecai's question addresses us as well.
In our lives, all of us, like Esther, have moments when our action or inaction, our willingness or unwillingness to take a risk can make a vital difference in someone's life. We can seize these moments or turn away from them. Esther swallowed her fear and seized her moment. Her example and her courage commend themselves to all of us when opportunities come for us to step up and make a difference.
So, as Purim approaches I hope we prepare for more than a good time. If we study the Book of Esther carefully, the lessons we learn about sexual harassment, the phenomenon of prejudice and our destiny as human beings can enrich our Jewish souls long after the celebration is over.
Rabbi Stephen Fuchs Installation Ceremony at Bat Yam Temple of the Islands. With Rabbi Paul J. Citrin and Cantor Murray Simon.
Repeatedly in the Bible, it is the woman who 'gets it' and the man who is clueless. Eve has been maligned for generations for the supposed fall of man, when in fact; she is the heroine of the elevation of humanity. ~